"After Jackie Kennedy, Americans came to adore the idea that a first lady had style," Blass said in an article in WWD's "One Hundred Years of Fashion," published in 1998. "That gave us all a sense of pride. But no first lady has set styles for a new...
"After Jackie Kennedy, Americans came to adore the idea that a first lady had style," Blass said in an article in WWD's "One Hundred Years of Fashion," published in 1998. "That gave us all a sense of pride. But no first lady has set styles for a new silhouette." Blass breezily summed up the influence of first ladies on American fashion: "A pill box hat, three strands of pearls and a color," he said, referring to Jackie's hats, Barbara Bush's pearls and Nancy Reagan Red.Early photos of Blass, in editorial spreads and in advertising, frequently showed a cigarette dangling from his lip. At parties, it was a cigarette and a glass of vodka, and his trademark wit. He was known to call people younger than him "old boy," and was never shy about commenting on issues of the day.In 1965, responding to off-the-cuff comments made by Norman Norell, raking the American designer establishment for taking too much inspiration from their Parisian counterparts, Blass responded by inquiring how Norell could objectively judge anyone's collections, "when he only sees John Moore's?"--a sly reference to Norell's protege who was widely known to be his lover."I'm fed up to the teeth with rigid clothes," Blass once pronounced. Another time he said: "There is nothing so dreary in clothes as perfection. The most boring woman is the one who looks as if she spends her life in the fitting room." In fact, Blass was always about real clothes for real people. In 1966, preparing for a November press showing, he yelled out: "If there's one model in here on Monday with fake eyelashes or a fake hairpiece, they'll be tossed right out the window."But it wasn't as if Blass was an enfant terrible. Rather, he often demonstrated a remarkable restraint in dealing with difficult editors or business people, even customers, recalled Fallon, who is now publicity director of the Carlisle Collection. "His way of expressing affection to you was to kid you," Fallon said. "So I was happy when he was insulting me. It was always when he became quiet around me that I got nervous." On a couple of occasions, Fallon lost his temper, such as during the infamous backstage bitchery at the 1973 Versailles show, or later, when dealing with a European licensee. On both occasions, Blass told him to shut up."He insisted on gentlemanly behavior, and he knew how to take care of himself," Fallon said. "He knew what kind of business had to be done, and he knew that you do it quietly."Of course, Blass occasionally crossed the line himself. In the February interview with WWD, he recalled at Versailles, "there was an awful lot of animosity toward Anne Klein. And it was not because she was a woman, but because she really was a b----. And Halston kept calling himself `Mr. Halston.' `Mr. Halston is not happy."'Blass was awarded two honorary doctorate degrees, one from The Rhode Island School of Design (1977) and the other from Indiana University (1984). In 1984, he also received The New Yorkers for New York Award from the Citizen's Committee for New York City. In 1987, he was appointed by president Ronald Reagan to The President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities. One of Blass' biggest passions was the New York Public Library. He served on its board of trustees from 1986, and, in 1994, donated $10 million to the library."You could consider it a miracle that I'm in the position to do this," the designer said at the time. "It was Brooke Astor who inspired me, as she does all of us. The New York Public Library and books are a passion for me, and I feel so strongly about books changing people's lives."Within the apparel industry, Blass has also won numerous awards. He was a three-time Coty American Fashion Critics Award winner (1961, 1963 and 1970), and is a lifetime member of the Coty Hall of Fame. He was also a recipient of the first Coty Award for men's wear in 1968, and received three special Coty citations for overall excellence. In 1987, Blass was given the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Council of Fashion Designers of America, of which he was one of 20 founding members in 1962. Only four others are still alive--Donald Brooks, Gustave Tassell, Luis Estevez and Arnold Scaasi. Blass served as president of the CFDA from 1979-81, and remained a member of its executive board."I was a lousy president," he said recently. "The only good thing that happened was bringing Perry Ellis in when I left. The challenge is to devote all your time to it, and I wanted out and Ellis said he would come in. My best contribution to the CFDA was making sure he succeeded me. He was by far the best president."In 1996, Blass was given the Dom Perignon Award for Humanitarianism for his philanthropic efforts at the CFDA Awards at Lincoln Center and in 2000, he was the subject of a special tribute as "The Dean of American Fashion." He was unable to attend that year because of ill health, but asked Peter Som to accept in his place so that the young designer would be exposed to the international fashion press. In addition to his efforts at the library, Blass was one of earliest major supporters of AIDS programs at New York hospitals. He often tied his retail trunk shows into local charities, giving a portion of sales as a donation.His generosity with young designers became as legendary as his personality, but if ever asked about his largess or his lifestyle, Blass seemed as jaded to the whole thing as could be. "Me jaded? Oh well...," he said on such an occasion in 1981. "`I'm world weary, world weary, living in a great big town...' Mr. Noel Coward, that could be my theme song. The simpler life is, the better. Maybe that's what style is after all."As always, that was followed by a mischievous wink and grin.
Breaking News: @louisvuitton's men's artistic director @mrkimjones is leaving the French fashion house after nearly 7 years. Jones joined Louis Vuitton in 2011, following a three year tenure as creative director of British luxury goods brand Alfred Dunhill. Jones is to exit Louis Vuitton after showing his fall 2018 collection for the brand in Paris on Thursday. Read the full exclusive story on WWD.com. Link in bio. #wwdnews #wwdfashion
For men’s fall 2018, @giuseppezanotti drew on elements from streetwear, sport, biker, combat and rock ‘n’ roll. Pictured here are a pair of shoes from the collection, featuring zippers, rhinestones, and silver hardware. Head to WWD.com to see a roundup of the accessories from Milan’s men’s fall 2018 shows. #wwdfashion (📷: Andrea Delb)
To celebrate the 25th anniversary of @ralphlauren’s snowboarding collection, the brand is mining its archives. The iconic brand is reintroducing vintage styles and dropping new designs for a color capsule that will be available in Ralph Lauren stores and @openingceremony on January 25. The capsule will consist of 10 pieces, including the Snow Beach Pullover, pictured here, which is a collector’s item that rapper Raekwon wore in Wu-Tang Clan’s “Can It Be All So Simple” video. #wwdfashion (📷: Tom Gould)
For @rochasofficial’s pre-fall 2018 collection, creative director Alessandro Dell’Acqua channeled the sophisticated and intriguing Catherine Denevue in the film “Belle de Jour.” Polished collarless coats, midi skirts, suits and ’60s graphic motifs were all featured in the collection, adding a sense of discreet luxury. See the rest of the photos on WWD.com #wwdfashion
“We tried to produce clothing of that couture quality, but the most daunting part was that we only had a matter of days [to do it],” said costume designer Lou Eyrich, who recreated Gianni Versace’s iconic looks for @americancrimestoryfx. Eyrich searched online retailers and vintage shops for original pieces from the design house and for @penelopecruzoficial, who plays Donatella Versace. Head to WWD.com to read how she created the Versace world. #wwdfashion
Only three months after her stellar debut catwalk season, @kaiagerber has inked her first big design collaboration –– with @karllagerfeld. The collection blends Lagerfeld’s Parisian chic aesthetic and the model’s signature West Coast casual style via RTW, accessories, footwear and more. The #KarlLagerfeldxKaia collection will launch in September with a series of events. Get all the details on WWD.com. #wwdnews #wwdfashion
Harrods plans to remove the famous statue of Princess Diana and Dodi Al Fayed from the bottom of the Egyptian escalators and hand it back to Mohamed Al-Fayed. “We are very proud to have played our role in celebrating the lives of Diana, Princess of Wales and Dodi Al Fayed at Harrods and to have welcomed people from around the world to visit the memorial for the past 20 years,” said Michael Ward, Harrods managing director. “With the announcement of the new official memorial statue to Diana, Princess of Wales at Kensington Palace, we feel that the time is right to return this memorial to Mr. Al Fayed and for the public to be invited to pay their respects at the palace.” More on the news, with reporting by @loreleimarfil, at WWD.com. #wwdnews